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English Style Guide

This Style Guide is intended primarily for English-language authors and translators, both in-house and freelance, working for the European Commission. But now that so many texts in and around the EU institutions are drafted in English by native and nonnative speakers alike, its rules, reminders and handy references aim to serve a wider readership as well. In this Guide, ‘style’ is synonymous with a set of accepted linguistic conventions; it therefore refers to recommended in-house usage, not to literary style. Excellent advice on how to improve writing style is given in The Plain English Guide by Martin Cutts (Oxford University Press, 1999) and Style: Toward Clarity and Grace by Joseph M. Williams (University of Chicago Press, 1995), and the European Commission’s own How to write clearly, all of which encourage the use of good plain English.  For reasons of stylistic consistency, the variety of English on which this Guide bases its instructions and advice is the standard usage of Britain and Ireland (for the sake of convenience, called ‘British usage’ or ‘British English’ in this Guide). The Guide is divided into two clearly distinct parts, the first dealing with linguistic conventions applicable in all contexts and the second with the workings of the European Union ­ and with how those workings are expressed and reflected in English.

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